THE Gunnedah Bulldogs will be eager to prepare for the 2019 Group 4 season with a trial match against the Dubbo-Macquarie Raiders.
However, Saturday's matches will have an added incentive, as both clubs will be competing for the Steve Rennick Memorial Cup.
Named after the late Gunnedah native, the event will have son Zac lining up for the Raiders to bring the connection full circle.
Bulldogs coach John Hickey told the Namoi Valley Independent the trial matches would be about "more than football".
"I played with Steve and his passing was tragic," Hickey said.
"So it was great to see his young bloke Zac help put this together to honour a great man.
"I'm sure both clubs will play really hard and, afterwards, raise a glass to a terrific bloke."
For the Bulldogs, the clash will mark the club's final trial before the beginning of the Group 4 season on May 4.
"This will be our first genuine selection trial match with all four sides playing," Hickey said.
"What we are planning on doing is to pick two different-looking sides, one for the first 20 minutes and one for the second 20 minutes.
"The reason for that being, it will give our players a chance to play in their preferred positions and a chance to play in a non-preferred position."
Hickey said there were several players he was "keen to see play".
"We have a really talented, versatile group of players, so it should be really interesting to see how they go in some different positions," he said.
"One in particular is Sam McRae, who we have recruited from Lismore.
"He's a big, strapping 19-year-old lock and it will be very interesting to see how he goes."
The Bulldogs have had a new-found philosophy during the pre-season, with the leadership group running training sessions.
"I have to give the leadership a lot of praise for the work they have put in this pre-season," Hickey said.
"They have really led the way in terms of the standards we want to set in 2019 and they deserve a lot of credit for that.
"It should be quite interesting to see how all of the boys go, because they will all be playing in their preferred positions and in some spots that are best for the team.
"All up, I think it should be a really good day for the club."
The Bulldogs will begin their Group 4 campaign with a bye in round one, before playing host to Kootingal-Moonbi in round two.
Saturday's trial matches will begin with ladies' league tag from 11.30am, followed by the under-18 trial match at 12.30pm and the senior men's trial at 1.30pm.